If the U.S. continues to “disrespect” Turkey, the government will seek “new friends and allies,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday, in the wake of a hike on steel and aluminium import tariffs and a collapse in the Turkish lira.
“Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives,” Erdogan said during the speech at Unye on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, according to Reuters.
“Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies,” said Erdogan.
On Friday, the U.S. administration said it would double import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium production taking them to 20 percent and 50 percent respectively. President Donald Trump later tweeted that bilateral relations were “not good at this time.”
Diplomatic tensions between Ankara and Washington relate to the conflict in Syria, the residence of an Erdogan critic in the U.S. and the case of an American pastor under house arrest in Turkey who faces charges related to terrorism.
“You can never bring this nation in line with the language of threats,” Erdogan said. “I am once again calling on those in America: It is a pity that you choose a pastor over your strategic partner in NATO.”
The threat to shift away from the transatlantic relationship comes after Erdogan spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. The two leaders discussed “mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation,” according to a Kremlin statement.
Erdogan also called on citizens to help prop up the currency, after the lira crashed to a record low.